GBTC Outflows Drop 50% as BlackRock Bitcoin ETF Surpasses $2B Holdings

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Things are on track for BlackRock’s Bitcoin ETF; First spot Bitcoin ETF application filed in Hong Kong; Amazon MGM Studios to Release Film on Bitfinex Bitcoin Launderers

Bitcoin ETFs absorb GBTC outflows

Bitcoin managed to hold on to the $42,000 level during the Wall Street open on January 29 as GBTC outflows continued to diminish.

The latest data showed that Bitcoin price continued its retreat from the $42,800 level at the end of the week.

The leading crypto faced earlier hurdles as GBTC outflows resumed after a promising weekly close. 

At the time of writing, current outflows stood at $360 million per day. This represented a 50 percent drop compared to the last trading day.

Bloomberg ETF analyst James Seyffart noted that on the same day, there was an outflow of $5 billion after GBTC was converted into an ETF. On January 26, Bitcoin ETFs saw a total inflow of $759 million, despite the negative outlook for GBTC.

According to BlackRock’s data, the company’s iShares Bitcoin Trust (iBIT) ETF held 52,000 Bitcoins worth over $2 billion during the day.

The shared data resonated on social media. Investor Rajat Soni addressed the scale of Bitcoin’s daily emission with the current volume of purchases.

“Currently, only 900 Bitcoins are mined every day. Blackrock customers alone are buying about 2-5 times the daily BTC production.”

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FOMC move expected

Bitcoin has investors optimistic ahead of a hectic week of macro data releases, but volatility is also likely.

In a post on X this week, financial commentator Tedtalksmacro wrote, “Currently, the market is giving ~97% chance that the Fed will hold rates steady at this meeting and 46% chance that it will cut at the March meeting.

He also said that he expects the FOMC meeting this week to form the basis for a rate cut in March.

“In general, I expect this week’s meeting to determine the decision to be taken in March, which could cause markets to move very quickly depending on Powell’s statements.”

First spot Bitcoin ETF application filed in Hong Kong

The Hong Kong Securities and Futures Commission (SFC) has reportedly received the first spot Bitcoin exchange-traded fund (ETF) application just weeks after the United States Securities and Exchange Commission approved the first spot BTC ETF in the US.  

According to Tencent News, Harvest Hong Kong, one of China’s largest fund managers, applied for a spot Bitcoin ETF to the Hong Kong SFC on January 26. The report stated that the market regulator is actively working to speed up the approval process of Hong Kong’s first spot Bitcoin ETF after the Spring Festival. 

According to the report, Hong Kong’s market regulator may take a similar approach to the US SEC and approve multiple spot ETFs at the same time to ensure parity. Harvest Fund is the first candidate to apply for a spot BTC ETF, but not the only one. There are other organizations in the region that intend to launch a spot BTC ETF in 2024. 

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Ten of the country’s financial institutions are actively working on a spot BTC ETF. Financial giants such as Venture Smart Financial Holdings (VSFG) have set the first quarter as the target for the spot ETF.  

Existing crypto companies with a crypto futures ETF in Hong Kong are also expected to be among the spot Bitcoin ETF issuers, such as Samsung Asset Management, which launched the Samsung Bitcoin Futures ETF in 2023. Samsung Asset Management said its “current activities will not reduce the possibility of a spot ETF.  

Hong Kong has become one of Asia’s leading crypto hubs thanks to the pro-crypto approach of market regulators in 2023. The SFC introduced cryptocurrency-focused regulations in 2023, paving the way for institutional and retail investors to participate in the crypto market. Prior to the SEC’s approval of the first spot BTC ETF, the Hong Kong SFC opened the door for crypto-based ETFs, stating that it is open to applications for the launch of various funds, including virtual asset spot exchange traded funds (VA Spot ETFs), as well as existing crypto futures ETFs.

Amazon MGM Studios to Release Film on Bitfinex Bitcoin Launderers

Amazon’s MGM Studios is reportedly in the process of developing a film centered around the couple involved in the laundering of billions of dollars in Bitcoin linked to the 2016 Bitfinex cryptocurrency exchange hack. According to a Deadline report on Jan. 26, the movie titled “Razzlekhan” is set to focus on the activities of Ilya Lichtenstein and Heather Morgan, portraying them as “Bitcoin’s Bonnie and Clyde” based on a 2022 New York Times article.

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After the Bitfinex hack in August 2016, which resulted in the theft of around 119,754 BTC, Lichtenstein and Morgan allegedly laundered over 94,643 BTC through a series of intricate transactions across various accounts and platforms. The U.S. authorities apprehended the couple in February 2022 and seized the Bitcoin, initially valued at approximately $54 million during the hack but valued at over $3 billion at the time of their arrest.

As part of an agreement with prosecutors in August 2023, Lichtenstein pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit money laundering, while Morgan pleaded guilty to money laundering conspiracy and conspiracy to defraud the United States. The movie, tentatively titled “Razzlekhan,” takes inspiration from Morgan’s alias as an “irreverent comedic rapper.”

While the film about Lichtenstein and Morgan seems to provide a dramatic portrayal of their lives, other studios have explored figures in crypto space through documentaries. Following the collapse of FTX and the arrest of former CEO Sam “SBF” Bankman-Fried in 2022, there were rumors of a documentary detailing the relationship between SBF and former Binance CEO Changpeng Zhao. Additionally, Netflix released a documentary in 2022 covering the life and death of QuadrigaCX founder Gerald Cotten, who left users without access to millions of dollars in crypto assets.